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I was wondering if I should post my 9/11 story. I’ve posted it several times over the last 20 years, and figured, maybe I shouldn’t – not this year.

But then a couple of folks asked me to…so I feel maybe it’s still relevant, especially on THIS anniversary.

Twenty years

I still can remember everything, as if it happened yesterday. What I saw. The fear I felt. The subsequent anger I felt. And the smell that seemed to just stick to all of downtown New York City for years after the attacks.

A little over two years ago, I was lucky enough to be re-employed by the New York City Economic Development Corporation – the same company I worked for back on 9/11. I had left in 2004, and all but regretted having done so because no matter where I worked in the years after, nothing compared to the sense of purpose I felt being a part of EDC.

At the time of my return, the company was still located on William Street, just a couple of blocks down from the World Trade Center. Four months after my return, EDC moved to its new location – across the street and adjacent to the WTC – right next door to the park where I stood watching in horror on 9/11 as the top of the North Tower, already hit by the first plane, bled smoke into the blue sky, and right on the spot where I made my turn to head to the office as the second plane hit the South Tower.

Every day, I see those two locations, and marvel at the resiliency of the city I call “home.” It’s amazing what we have built there – and I’m amazed to be a part of the company that helped make that happen. People from all over the world come to visit the Freedom Tower and to stand by the memorials in the footprints of where the two buildings once stood. Companies, much to what the naysayers in the aftermath of that horrible day predicted, have come back to create workspaces in the buildings there. There is life again there, where once there was a gaping hole of smoke and debris. There is joy, even among the sadness of remembrance of all those we lost in the course of a day full of terror.

One thing I can say – New York City always bounces back. Those who keep calling it ‘dead’ must be tired of being so wrong so often.

For those who have asked, here’s my 9/11 story.

Back in 2001 I lived in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and worked three blocks away from the World Trade Center. My train stop coming into Manhattan was across the street from the North Tower.

My plan to catch an earlier train than usual was thwarted by my more immediate desire to look good for our monthly board meeting. I remember running in my three-inch platform heels and cursing my vanity as I watched the train leave the station. I didn’t realize at that moment how lucky I was. You see the train I took back then left the station every twelve minutes. Had I made the train I ended up missing, I would have likely been walking up the stairs to street level as the first plane hit The North Tower. 

Instead, I caught the next train, which had me arriving in Manhattan shortly after the North Tower had been hit.

Of course, at the time, I didn’t know any of this. I just knew I was running late and I needed to get to the office before the Board Meeting started.

During the ride into the city, we were stuck between Brooklyn and Manhattan for a few minutes. I remember all the passengers, including myself, being annoyed – cursing the MTA – a favorite pastime of all passengers running late for work.

There was no announcement until we arrived at the first stop in Manhattan – Whitehall Street – and all they said was:

“Due to a Smoke condition, we will be bypassing the Courtland Street station.  For the Wall Street area, please use the Rector Street or City Hall Stations.”  Everyone looked irritated. It seemed back then that every week there was a “Smoke Condition” at the Courtland Street Station.

Usually, it meant a garbage can was on fire or some stupid kid was pulling some stupid prank effectively delaying the trains for what amounted to nothing, leaving harried employees irritated, and late for work – But not this time.

I got out at Rector Street because it was closer to where I worked than City Hall – annoyed that I would have to walk a few extra blocks in heels.

When I got out of the station, I could smell the smoke. I walked up to street level and saw smoke and fire coming from the North Tower and paper wafting down to the ground from the building as well. All I could think was, “oh no, not again.” I apparently said this out loud because a lady passing me by stopped to say, “oh no, it was just a freak accident – a small jet or something flew into the tower – it’s very weird – they think maybe the pilot had a heart attack.”

Now mind you, I was suspicious – Hey, I was there in 1993 too. But I decided to just go on to work so I started making my way in the direction of the WTC. Downtown can be a bit difficult to navigate because it’s not the nice little neat grid that the rest of Manhattan is, so I was trying to use the most familiar path I knew. I got to Zucchotti Park, which was full of people staring up at the Tower – some were crying. I looked up as well, but was mindful of the time, because again – I had a meeting.

I know I walked a little further and then, closer to the South Tower, I made a right to head towards my job, all the while hearing many folks talking in disbelief about the ‘freak accident.’ I walked three steps in the direction of  my building, placing my back to the burning Tower, when suddenly, I heard what I can only describe as very loud blasts – it sounded like something was blowing up.

I, along with countless people, started to run. 

At this point I remember thinking that maybe the plane that had flown into the North Tower exploded (later, I learned that, in fact that noise was the sound of the South Tower being hit). I was also, at that moment, thinking “don’t fall” for fear I’d be trampled.

Once I made it to my building on William Street, I could see my co-workers staring up in disbelief in the direction of  the North Tower. We had a very good view of that tower from the corner of our building. One of my friends, having noticed me, out of breath, and I’m sure disheveled, asked me if I was okay.  As I began to nod my head “yes,” I put a hand through my hair to push it out of my face and noticed there was glass in it. I, also at that moment, felt glass down my back. As one friend handed me her orange juice, another started to pick the glass out of my hair. I was a little freaked out at that moment, but not nearly as panicky as, should I ever have imagined myself in that situation, thought I’d be. I looked up towards the tower to see why folks had started gasping and noticed fairly large figures falling from the area above the smoke.  It took a while for it to register that those were people throwing themselves out of the tower.

I realized at that moment, that whatever the situation was, my parents needed to know that I was fine. No one’s cell phones were working, so I went upstairs to try the landlines. I managed to reach my father’s answering machine.  One of my friends had offered to let me come to her apartment in the Village but I declined her offer, saying: “No offense, but I’m getting off this Island even if I have to swim.” Another one of my co-workers was in her office crying and I looked in to see if she was okay. She said that the Pentagon had been hit too. Clearly these were no freak accidents.

And then we started hearing rumors of other planes.

I had decided I was going to cross the Brooklyn Bridge with three of my co-workers. We all agreed to meet in the lobby by the elevators. I got downstairs and met up with two of the three ladies I was going to walk home with. I told them I wanted to let the co-worker who had offered me to stay with her in The Village know I was going with them instead.  She and another co-worker were out in front of our building next to the revolving doors.  As I walked towards them, the building began to shake, and the lights began to flicker on and off.  We heard a huge rumble and lots of crashing noises. 

The folks milling outside ran into the building and we all ran towards the side door. I linked hands with the two women who had been waiting for me and we ran outside along with the crowd. I was the last in our human chain and looked behind me. I saw a huge cloud of smoke heading our way. I tried to yell to them that we’re better off inside the building. They didn’t hear me. I broke off the chain and ran back into the building. I found out later that another co-worker HAD heard me and followed me inside. She said that had she been caught up in that cloud of smoke she most likely wouldn’t have made it, as she was asthmatic.

Once the initial brunt of the cloud of smoke that once was The South Tower passed, all those inside the building walked out to the street. It was eerie. You couldn’t see or hear anyone. The smoke/dust was so thick that you could be right next to a person, and they would sound as if they were far away. I could vaguely hear crying and I swear I heard my own heart beating. For the first time, I was truly scared. I thought I was never getting home.  I tried to keep myself in check though, as I tried to make my way to the South Street Seaport.

I turned left on Pearl Street. The smoke/dust on that block seemed to have lifted a bit and I recognized a familiar face from work.  He took one look at me and said, “are you okay?” and suddenly I couldn’t control the tears anymore and whimpered, “I want to go home.”   He asked me where home was, and I said “Brooklyn.”  He was from Brooklyn too and told me that he was looking for another one of our co-workers and that once we found him, we’d all go home together.

The third person found us pretty quickly (they had told each other where to meet), and we headed for the Seaport. At that time I worked for the New York City Economic Development Corporation and we were working on moving the Fulton Fish market to the Bronx.  The guys I was walking with were working on that deal so the folks at the fish market let us go into their offices for a quick rest before we started out to the bridge.

The folks in that office were very nice to us and kept trying to clean off my bag, my skirt, my shoes – giving me wet paper towels to wipe off my dust covered face. All I wanted was a working phone line. I HAD to get in touch with one of my parents to let them know I was STILL okay.  While we were there, the news was on, and they were talking about rumors of other planes and were trying to confirm a plane crashing in Pennsylvania.

At that moment I felt a sudden urgency to just get going.  I wanted off the Island of Manhattan. We decided that since the Brooklyn Bridge is the most famous bridge in New York City, it would likely be the first target if they wanted to cut us off from the rest of the boroughs – we weren’t taking chances.  We walked to the Manhattan Bridge (which also goes into Brooklyn) instead.

As we got to the foot of the bridge on the Manhattan side, we saw a throng of people running in our direction.  We found out later that the North Tower had fallen as well.

The Twin Towers were gone.

As we crossed the bridge, I kept looking back at the smoke coming from the spot where the towers used to be in disbelief.  Again, my thoughts were spoken aloud and I said to one of the guys “Wow, not to get all biblical or anything, but this reminds me of the story of Sodom and Gomorrah.”  My friend responded “well, we don’t want you to turn into a pillar of salt, so stop looking back. Let’s go home.”

When we got to the other side of the bridge, we all breathed a sigh of relief and just sat there on the grass watching as more people poured into Brooklyn.  The folks in Brooklyn were passing out water. I bumped into the lady me and my other two friends had been waiting for inside our building.  I was relieved she had made it out. She took one look at my feet and said, “go into the store behind me and get yourself a pair of flip flops NOW.”  So, I did.  My shoes had given me a couple of very large blisters at the bottom of my feet. I was in pain (and probably in shock), but relieved to be out of the city.

Bay Ridge was clear on the other side of Brooklyn, and it would have taken me all day to get home if I had walked.  Luckily a nice gentleman was picking up folks and driving them as far as his daughter’s school, which was about fifty blocks away from where I lived.  I took the ride.  Then I got myself a cab.

I had managed thus far to keep myself together but as I turned the corner of my house (the cab had to let me off about five blocks away because there was traffic backed up to the Verrazano bridge which had been closed because of the day’s events, so I walked/ran the last five blocks), I started shaking. 

Once I was inside, I just slid down to the floor and let it all out. My roommate at the time, came out of her bedroom and said, “Thank God you’re okay. We’ve all been trying to reach you. Call your sister. She’s in a panic.”  Luckily, outgoing calls from landlines were working, so I was able to call my sister and let her know I was fine. With the exception of the message I’d left on my father’s home phone (which I later found out he hadn’t heard, having not been able to leave his office for two days – he was the President of a Livery Cab company at the time, and they were trying to find the drivers that had been dispatched Downtown that morning), I still hadn’t reached either of my parents.

After taking the longest shower ever, I still felt as though I had glass in my hair and down my back, and no matter how many times I bathed, I could still smell the contents of the big ball of smoke I had walked through. It took days for me to feel physically normal again.

For the next few days, I slept in the living room with the TV on. By day two I had it on PBS because that was the only station NOT airing continuous images of the Twin Towers.  I had to take sleeping pills to be able to sleep.  Loud noises scared me. 

I’m a pretty tough person, but for the first week or so after 9/11, I wasn’t me at all.

I went back to work the following week.  We were working out of offices in downtown Brooklyn.  Like I said, I worked for the Economic Development Corporation, and we were clearly going to be busy for a very long time to come.  They told everyone to take their time, come back when we were ready.  But I had to be around people who understood how I felt.  No one in my personal life did because they hadn’t actually been there.

A week after that, we were back Downtown. I can’t describe to you the odor or the sights.  There were national guardsmen walking the streets asking for ID to prove you had a reason to be below Canal Street.  I took to wearing my Work ID around my neck.

I was lucky, really.  I truly feel like I was blessed that day. I have a sense that maybe my grandfather, who had passed a couple of months earlier, was watching over me on that day, making sure I got home alright. He was notoriously late for everything. Maybe he was the one who made me miss that train.

I was also lucky in that while I knew a few of the people who perished (three firefighters), all my family and close friends managed to escape physically unscathed. Because of this, I was able to concentrate on the folks who did lose those close to them and on the work we had ahead of us.

I kept the outfit I wore that day for about 15 years. I even wore it a few times, when I felt I needed a little extra luck – because I felt it was my lucky outfit – it was what I was wearing on the day I made it home when so many didn’t. I wore those shoes too, for years. I repaired them over and over again, until, sadly, I had to retire them permanently in the summer of 2008. But for the seven years after 9/11/01, every time I’d wear them, I’d remember how they got me across the bridge on the scariest day of my life.

It’s been twenty years and my heart still races and I still tear up when I think of the devastation of that day. I’m fine in my day-to-day life. But each year, on 9/11, I allow myself to dwell – to remember every detail. Because while we all must move on, if only to honor those whose lives were cut short, we can never forget.

I know that so much has happened in the years since the towers fell. There have been weddings and divorces, births and deaths. I met and married a wonderful man and then he passed away. I have moved. I suffered through being unemployed during the last recession. My heart found itself expanded in ways I never knew possible with the births of my nephew and then my niece. I found love again, with another wonderful man. I found myself, happily, back at my old job – helping New York City bounce back from yet another nightmare – a global pandemic.

Life, for me, has moved on.

And each day, I marvel at the resiliency of the town I call ‘home,’ and the human soul that can reimagine itself, heal itself despite the scars, and move on.

There are so many different stories folks who managed to escape that day, physically unscathed, will tell. I can pretty much guarantee each one will contain two elements:

– Gratitude at having been lucky enough to get out of there alive and unhurt.

– The need to  never forget the ones who weren’t as lucky as we were.

I don’t know if I will repost this story in another five, ten, fifteen, however many, years. But, I know I will never forget the day I came home.

I am woman, hear me roar

Unpopular rant here, bear with me. I realize it’s going to be weird to hear this side of an argument from a ‘lefty-liberal’ like me.

I’m fed up with the ‘woke’ folks.

I’m a cisgender heterosexual white female.

I prefer the pronouns “She/Her.” I earned the right to be referred to as “Ms.” or “Mrs.” (but will smack you into tomorrow if you friggen ma’am me)

Why the hell should I be made to feel ashamed of any of that?

I respect everyone. Regardless of your preferred pronoun, who you love, color of your skin, religion – I respect other human beings and do my best to always see people the way they see themselves and the way they want to be seen.

But I have to draw a line when it comes to the, let’s say, “well intentioned” but wholly misguided efforts to foster inclusivity by actually excluding and shaming folks who are fine with their own personal lives as they are.

Today I was forwarded an article, with a link to a private school in NYC called Grace Church School. They have a policy that I find ridiculous and disrespectful and totally out of line that may or may not be in consideration by the larger NYC public school system.

Among other ‘woke’ ideas (ie: don’t refer to kids by their assigned gender, ie: “girls” or “boys” or ever refer to the class as a whole as ‘guys’ – something already implemented, apparently, in most DOE schools), there was something about how kids should be discouraged from referring to their parents by the terms “mom” or “dad.” Now, I’m not talking about the alarmist shit written in the article about this new policy (I mean it was in the NY Post, so obviously their rhetoric regarding the policy was going to be suspect, so I read the policy itself).

As per the verbiage in the policy, It’s not just that they don’t want teachers referring to the kids’ guardians as ‘mother’ and ‘father,’ they are instructed to discourage the kids themselves from calling their parents “mom” and “dad” because there might be kids in the classroom who don’t live with their biological or adoptive parents and therefore they may be offended. Listen, I get it. Some kids don’t live with parents. Some kids live in foster care of with other family members. But to discourage the kids who live with their parents, whose parents want to be called “mom” or “dad” from doing so, really?

WHAT THE EVER LOVING HELL are we teaching kids? And how the hell does this policy do anything other make kids who are blessed with parents feel guilty for having a mom and/or a dad, or two moms or two dads?

I’m sorry, but I don’t know any parent, be it a birth parent or an adoptive parent, who doesn’t love the sound of the word “mom” or “dad” coming out of their child’s mouth.

Oh and while we are at it, I understand that there’s a whole lot of work we need to do as a society to be more equitable – especially when it comes to race. But when my seven-year-old nephew is asking if he’s a bad person because he’s white – because of a new policy teaching “Black excellence/White Privilege” to first graders who haven’t even learned about slavery and this country’s reprehensible history, then the schools are failing in that mission. Don’t you think?

Isn’t the mission supposed to be that we are supposed to be equal, regardless of color of skin, ethnicity, or race? You really think that making a seven-year-old feel guilty for something he has no control over (the color of his skin) is somehow going to make it better for anyone?

That kid also happens to be Jewish – which means his ancestors had their own issues, like Tzar sanctioned pogroms where his ancestors were raped and murdered because they were Jewish, or more recently, the Holocaust where his great-grandfather’s entire family was wiped out because of their religion.

And don’t tell me it’s any better for Jews now, in this country. Sorry, I’ve seen the swastikas and heard the chants of “Jews will not replace us” on the Republican side, and the anti-Israeli sentiment on the far left of the Democratic side – we’ve got it pretty fucking bad ourselves. Should I be offended that no one is standing up for me or my kind or teaching the children of White Anglo Saxons Protestants or Catholics that they are evil because their ancestors likely benefitted from burning Jews at the stake for not wanting to convert?

I am incensed. Obviously.

You want to be ‘woke’ and make it easier for all of us to get along? Then don’t do it by making anyone feel bad for being who they are.

We are all human beings and the thing we need to teach our kids is to respect one another as human beings. To understand that some had it rougher, for generations, is fine. To teach them that historically, certain groups have been treated unfairly and continue to be treated unfairly, and that changes need to be made so that we can all be treated fairly, is absolutely necessary.

But what they’re doing now? That’s shameful and wrong. And it’s not doing anyone any good – regardless of their race, ethnicity, gender, or religion. In fact, it’s downright harmful and won’t foster equality or inclusiveness. In fact, it’s more likely to further divide us as a nation.

End rant. If you’ve stayed with me this far, thanks.

The other night, as I watched NY Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez describe the harrowing events she went through on 1/6/2021, like most decent people, I was horrified.

I’ve often told someone that unless you were present for a traumatic event, you really can’t understand what the folks who were actually physically there, went through – what they felt – the trauma they will deal with for, likely, the rest of their lives.

Every time, I’ve described the events I went through on 9/11 to anyone who wasn’t there, folks would respond with “Oh, I know what you went through, I watched the whole thing on TV.”

No. No you don’t understand. Unless you were physically in downtown NYC that day, you may have felt fear, confusion and anger, but you really don’t have a clue what it felt like to not know whether you’re ever going to see your family again, to sleep in your bed, to see your front door. You just don’t know that feeling. You can’t grasp that fear, that gut wrenching, mind-numbing, absolute fear. You don’t really know what it’s like to have your instincts kick in. To, in the moment, not even realize how scared you actually are. Or, how after you’re safe, and are in a position to process everything you’ve experienced, realizing, “holy, shit, did I really go through all that? How the hell did I even get through it?”

You may have experienced fear for those you loved who may have been there, but you weren’t there. You don’t know what THAT felt like.

And that’s what I felt when I heard AOC speak her truth.

I have no idea what she went through that day. I watched, as most of us did, on TV, as an angry mob attacked the Capitol. I was shocked. I was angry. I was stupefied. And, yeah, I wanted their blood and the blood of anyone who gave them the idea they had any right to do that. But I have no idea how it felt to be inside that building, hiding, knowing with ever fiber of your body that if the wrong person got a hold of you, you very well may end up dead.

I remember after 9/11, the way the country came together – despite political affiliation or beliefs – how we were collectively in mourning – how we were collectively pissed off at the people who did this. And while the perpetrators of the attack were all dead, the folks that sent them there were not – and we wanted those mother fuckers really bad. We wanted them SO badly, we started two wars to try and find them – one under false pretenses, even. We killed the guy who sent those people there. We’ve captured the folks who helped in the planning of it. It’s been 20 years since 9/11 and we STILL haven’t ‘let it go’ – and we really shouldn’t. Because we were attacked. The country was traumatized. People are STILL mourning those they lost in those attacks.

“Never forget” is an apt sentiment when folks attack you.

So why should we forget what happened on 1/6/2021?

Why the hell should we ‘let it go’?

We shouldn’t. There was an act of sedition. An insurrection. An attempt to overthrow the very Democracy we all claim to hold so dear. And while only one of the folks who perpetrated this crime is dead, and many are in custody, why shouldn’t we go after the folks who sent them there?

Unity?

Bullshit.

How do you ‘unify’ a country by letting those who incited an insurrection off without any consequences? How do you ‘unify’ a country by letting people who incited an insurrection know that they could get away with it, giving them an opening to do it all again – this time with a leader who isn’t a complete moron at their helm.

If a member of your family, say, one you didn’t agree with, decided to rob your home, because they felt you had something they wanted and it was unfair to them that you, despite earning what you have, had whatever it is they didn’t have, if they, along with some of their friends, wrecked your car, smashed your windows busted down your doors, looking to steal what you worked so hard to earn, would you just ‘let it go’?

And if they then told you, they were encouraged to commit that crime, by say, the head of their branch of the family tree, and they got money for weapons and travel from another member of that branch, would you let those people go?

If people aren’t held accountable for their actions, they will simply do it again – and next time they could succeed. Not in just overrunning our democracy, but they actually could kill more than just one brain-washed, deranged, asshole who tried to climb through a window to get to Mike Pence, or Nancy Pelosi – to kill one or both of them – because she was told they were enemies of the President she loved so much she was willing to kill for him.

This is insanity. This idea that we should just ‘let it go.’ We didn’t ‘let it go’ when, long after she’d given up her position as Secretary of State, the senate tried Hillary Clinton for Benghazi – and then all but buried the news when their investigations concluded that neither she, nor the Obama administration, were at fault for what happened there.

We didn’t just ‘let it go’ when Charles Manson sent his deranged cult members to murder innocent people. That cult leader died in prison, and he never murdered anyone. But he incited the murderers – and he paid for that crime, as well he should have.

So please, miss me with the ‘let it go’ crap. Yes. This country is hurting. We need bold legislation and funding to get us through yet another post-Republican administration crisis – and we’ll have that. The Senate will just have to do something it hasn’t done in years – work. They’ll have to not take random ‘recesses’ only to be called back to vote in yet another conservative judge, pass $3 trillion tax breaks for the wealthy, or hold another Benghazi hearing. It’ll be a change for them, I’m sure. It’ll be hard, but the Democrats are in charge, and I’m guessing their itching to actually do something they haven’t been able to do since McConnell took over – work for the people they represent.

And the threats coming from the likes of Lindsay Graham like “the Democrats better not call witnesses or we’re going to call in the FBI”? Hysterical. Please, do. Call in the FBI. Call in the DOJ. Please let us hear what they have to say about how they’ve been telling you all for two years that White Supremacists and the Q-Anon crew were the biggest national threat to our security and how Trump’s rhetoric was egging them on and empowering them.

Please, let us hear ALL the pieces of shit who stormed the Capitol tell us how they were ‘invited by Trump,’ and how when Trump told them he’d ‘see them on January 6th – it’ll be wild,’ they knew there’d be some violence – and how when he told them to march on the Capitol and that he’d be right there with them because if they don’t fight, they’ll lose their country, after two months of hearing the big lie about how the election was stolen from them, an election, mind you, roughly a third of those assholes DIDN’T EVEN VOTE in – they took it as ‘storm the Capitol’ – because that’s EXACTLY what he meant. Please, let us hear them tell us how his expression of disappointment in Mike Pence, and his abject hatred of people like AOC and Pelosi, led them to believe they’d be rewarded by him if they got rid of those problems for him.

Those aren’t threats to those of us who want to see these assholes pay. They are only threats to those who know they’d be implicated in these crimes. Who knows what witnesses will say about not only Donald Trump, but Lindsay Graham (who called the Georgia Governor to try and get him to not certify that state’s votes), or Ted Cruz, or Josh Hawley?

So bring that shit on. But don’t tell us to ‘let it go.’ Everyone who had anything to do with the events on January 6, and all the lies they helped spread, should be held accountable. Whether it’s via legal action, or whether it’s via campaign ads where their words, and actions, can, and will be, used against them in the court of public opinion.

What happened on 1/6/2021 didn’t have to happen. But the people who made it happen need to pay for it. Once they do, maybe we will finally ‘let it go.’

I try not to get too personal on FaceBook, what with trolls and such.. Also, griping about my personal life is something I was taught a long time ago is just something one doesn’t do. But I have to speak up about this.
If you’re friends with me on FaceBook, or on Twitter, you would have noticed, that in as much as my political views skew left, I have been particularly vicious towards a conspiracy group called QAnon.
And yeah, they’re crazy. And yes, they love Trump. But that’s not the reason I actively, hate – yes, I said “hate” (another thing I was told was bad, but right now, I don’t care), everything about them.
And here’s why.
My now former childhood best friend.
I’ve known this person since I was 13.
She was 14 when we met, and didn’t know much about Jews or the Jewish way of life, or that there were as many different variations on practicing Judaism (or not practicing it all that much) as there are stars in the sky – Truly.
We grew up in one another’s homes. She was accepted as a member of the family – not just by my immediate family – but by my extended family as well. She used to call my grandmother “baptcha.” My sister, for the longest time, considered her a like a second older sister.
She used to ask me questions about rumors she’d heard about Jews, and their traditions. Having gone to Yeshiva, I considered myself quite the expert, and explained everything I could as best as I could.
We went through everything together. First loves, first heartbreaks, the ups and downs of HS, College and post college life. We were roommates for a couple of years. We used to joke about our weddings, who we’d marry, how our kids would grow up to be best friends like we were – all the stuff young girls and women talk about.
When I got married, she was a bridesmaid in my wedding. I flew her in from Texas (where she was living at the time) and bought her dress and paid for her hair and make-up because it was THAT important to me that she be a part of that day we both had dreamed of all our lives.
So, to find out that she joined this fucking cult killed me.
It broke my heart worse than any ex-boyfriend ever did.
You see, QAnon is drenched in Anti-Semetism. They believe in the Protocols of the Elders of Zion – A series of theories, that has long been debunked, but that has been used, in various different forms as the justification for Anti-Semetism in one way or another, for centuries.
Ultimately, the Protocols state that the Jews were said to have made plans to disrupt Christian civilization and create a world they rule along side the Freemasons. Liberalism and socialism were the means they would use to do this, along with financially sabotaging all the capitals of Europe.
The combined Anti-Semetic theories were published in Russia in 1903 and printed and distributed in America by Henry Ford to justify what he knew was going on in Germany during WWII.
QAnon also believes in “Blood Libel.” It’s an old, also debunked, conspiracy theory that claims that Jews use the blood of Christians, particularly Christian children, in religious rituals, especially in the preparation of Passover Mazoh.
To hear, that after 36 years of friendship, she was so quick to embrace a group that believes in this shit, and proudly supports their anonymous leader, how could I not react the way I did?
I tried to talk to her. I really did. I tried to explain how hurtful it was that she’d believe some anonymous stranger’s lies over the truths she witnessed her whole life – but to no avail.
We did get childish – each of us posting passive-aggressive remarks about one another on our personal FaceBook pages. I guess my post about people who join cults only do so because they can’t face their own failures in life, really got to her because she ‘unfollowed’ me.
Funny enough, within a week of her unfollowing me, five different mutual friends, along with my mother, asked me what the hell was wrong with her. I couldn’t answer with the whole truth – that this person they knew for over thirty years, didn’t just go over the edge mentally, but she took a swan dive over to the dark side.
I realized, that had we grown up together in Poland back in the 1930s, had been best friends, to the point of considering one another family, she would have likely been first in line to report me to the Gestapo when they came to our town.
I’ve never been the type of person to exclaim that someone was ‘dead to me,’ But I guess there’s a first time for everything.
Truly speaking, if you believe even an ounce of what QAnon is shitting out into the world, I have nothing left to say to you. People like those leading and following QAnon are no different than all those Germans who had no problem turning Jews in to be slaughtered.
And if you’re a Jew who entertains the other parts of QAnon’s narrative, you’re no better than those Jews who were okay with Hitler because ‘he couldn’t be serious’ about his plans for the population of the Jews.
So yes, for the first time in my life I can honestly say I “hate” something. I don’t know what exactly it is I hate, because the person that started this movement is anonymous. I hate them for taking away my best friend.. or maybe I should thank them for showing me who this person really is.
Because how much of a friend could she have been if she could follow anything this cult believes in, knowing they believe this about people like me?

It’s Time We Talked

Do you ever wonder what would happen, if instead of racism, bigotry, homophobia, misogyny and anti-semitism, being the language we choose to emphasize, we all tried to actually hear one another?

I’ve experienced, or been witness to, all of the above. I’m a first generation American Jewish woman of Russian/Polish decent.

I have friends who I love dearly from every background I can think of. I come from a family who after a lifetime of suffering through systemic anti-semitism, was all but kicked out of their country of origin, simply because they were Jewish.

I grew up hearing stories from my grandfathers about their families, who in one day were all murdered by a hoard of swastika waiving pieces of shit who thought they were ‘superior’ because their ‘leader’ told them they were.

My ‘privileged’ life was at the expense of my mother coming to a new country at the age of 21, learning what to her was a foreign language – English- and working three jobs while going to school, so her kids could want for nothing. She had to forgo many of the hopes and dreams she had for her life, so that I and my sister could live the lives we are living now. She dealt with xenophobia, anti-semetism, sexism and God knows what else, and she still works her ass off past the age where she should be enjoying her retirement because she spent every penny she ever made on making sure we had everything we both needed AND wanted. My ‘privilege’ comes from my mother being a badass and from her doing her best to instill those values in me and my sister. She would always tell us that no one is going to give us anything in this world. Not men, not strangers not anyone else. We have to do it ourselves.

And yes, I understand that the color of my skin may have helped me in some situations, like getting out of a traffic stop without being arrested or murdered. But I am a 40+ year old woman living in a one bedroom apartment with my boyfriend and his son. We aren’t rich, we aren’t poor. We are in that spot folks don’t even think about. The middle class. We can survive – if we stay employed. But if we miss more than one paycheck, we are screwed. My skin color won’t help me. I’ll lose my health benefits, my ability to buy food and pay my rent. But that’s beside the point of this post.

Both my grandfathers lost everyone they loved practically over night, their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and younger siblings – all murdered, and for what? Because of their religion.

My grandfathers managed to build lives for themselves, sure. But they both carried their pain and trauma to their deathbeds. No one on either side of my family could get full stories about their experiences because neither one of those strong, charismatic, loving, men, could get through their stories without crying and reliving the pain of that loss and the horror they suffered.

I know the history of my people, and as far back as biblical times, my people were held as slaves, tortured and murdered for refusing to convert from the religion they followed, and to this day are still seen by a huge swath of humanity as subhuman and scapegoats for all the ills of the world.

And that’s just the ‘being Jewish’ part of my experience.

Then there’s my gender.

As a woman, I’ve been condescended to, underestimated and treated as if my opinion was irrelevant because apparently having a vagina makes me less capable of forming coherent thoughts.

I’ve had my body scrutinized, touched inappropriately, and legislated by men who genuinely believed their rights are greater than mine simply because they were born with penises and I wasn’t.

And yet, I’m proud of my heritage, because despite over 2000 years of people trying to kill us off, my people have become resilient and strong.

I’m proud of being a woman because without women, humanity wouldn’t exist.

I know there are people who aren’t Jewish and aren’t female who are allies and who don’t believe all Jews need to be wiped off the planet and don’t believe that all women need shut up, push out babies, and cater to the needs of all men.

I don’t say this to diminish anything any other race, religion or orientation has been going through.

I do this to point out that there are so many experiences that unite us. And, that while our differences, whether it’s the color of our skin, religious or ethnic background, or sexual orientation may not be identical, the people who want us to continue to focus on all those differences are the ones who benefit the most from using those differences against us.

If you are black, brown, gay, straight, transgender, Jewish, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, atheist, or in any way, not whatever they consider ‘normal,’ the people who benefit from using whatever they see as ‘different,’ want you to focus solely on all our differences because they know that if we do that, they stay in power.

I had a conversation yesterday with someone who I love dearly. This person works with underprivileged children and is probably one of the most open hearted people I know. And to paraphrase this persons words:

‘I am tired of being lumped in with racists and I am tired of being lumped in with a small group of extremists (Hasidic Jews). I’m tired of, after doing everything I can, be it spend extra time with other people’s kids, away from my own children, to make sure they understand their school work, or bring food for them, buy them their school supplies with money I barely have myself, only to have their parents spit on me and call me a ‘racist’ or a ‘Jewish bitch’ for things I can’t control.’

Hearing that hurt.

What also hurt me is knowing countless friends who have been stopped and harassed by police because of the color of their skin – stops I have witnessed personally, and others that I’ve heard of anecdotally.

Stories of my LGBTQ friends being beaten or fired from jobs because of their sexual orientation.

Or the women in my life, including myself, dealing with any form of sexual discrimination, and assault.

Or more recently, Asian friends and their families being physically and financially harmed because of a virus, the spread of which they had nothing to do with.

Maybe this isn’t the time to have this discussion. Or, maybe this IS the exact time to have it. I don’t know.

But I keep coming back to this notion that all this division isn’t going to help us progress as human beings. Not when the real minority in this country is so hell bent on keeping us divided. Because they know that if we actually did the unthinkable and united, with all our shared trauma and experiences being the catalyst, we can actually all thrive as nation and as a people and they’d be assed out of their undeserved lofty positions.

There will always be those who want to keep us at one another’s throats. Because if we are busy pointing fingers at each other, we aren’t paying attention to what they’re doing behind our backs.

You only need to look at who is out there protesting to know there are more of us than there are them.

So, the next time someone shows themselves to be an ally, instead of asking ‘what have you done for me lately,’ hear them out. Really pay attention to what they do in their day to day lives. Stop focusing on how much better their lives may appear to you, because no one knows the experiences of others. Most of what you think you know can very well be an assumption. And we ALL are guilty of that.

Most people will make an assumption about another person simply because of the color of their skin, their gender, their ethnic background at first glance. Once that assumption is made, even after knowing that person for years, there is always a nagging distrust that lingers in the back of your head, that harbors a tiny seed of distrust. It festers until tensions run high and can destroy any progress you make with another person.

We all need to be making a conscious effort to do better.

So be careful. Be mindful. Try to really listen instead of assuming that someone will live up to the worst thing you thought of them when you first met. You may find yourself surprised to know that despite all your differences, you are more alike than you may have ever dreamed of.

I am hopeful, yet trying to be realistic, that one day, maybe not in my lifetime, our little corner of the world can truly be ‘United.’

I don’t think I know any woman who doesn’t have at least one story of a guy trying to force himself on her.

It’s sad, isn’t it?

I thought about posting my own personal experiences many times over the past year or so, as I watched the #metoo movement gain steam. I didn’t.  I simply couldn’t bring myself to write it all down. I’ve moved on with my life and these events are a part of my past, and I’m pretty happy with my present, and looking forward to a happy future. I simply didn’t want to rehash, what to me, is ancient history.

But something about Dr. Christine Blasey Ford’s account of what happened to her at the hands of Brett Kavanaugh back when they were in High School really struck a chord in me. And so, I’ve decided to talk about some of my experiences.

My first story takes place at McDonalds, at the Staten Island Mall, where I briefly worked while trying to save up some money for a trip I was taking to New Orleans to visit, my, at the time, boyfriend.

I was a senior in HS.

A friend of mine from school was some kind of supervisor, or Jr. Manager. While I often hung out with him in group settings, I never gave him any indication that I might be interested in him. And because I know the most important question is usually “what were you wearing?” – I was wearing a McDonald’s uniform. Very alluring outfit, I know.

In any case, one night, as I was taking out the garbage after closing, he followed me out to the bin area behind the store. We chatted for a minute. The next thing I knew, he was pinning me up against a wall and his tongue was down my throat, his hands felt like they were everywhere.

I tried to shove him off. I said “no.”

Finally, I bit his tongue.

Needless to say, he was pretty angry. He told me he was going to make sure I never got any shifts again.

I ran out of there shaking. I clocked out, went home, and tried to figure out how I was going to explain losing my job to my mom.
Luckily, a few days later, I ended up with the chicken pox.

No one to this day, other than, my best friend, who picked me up from work at night, and to whom I told the entire story, in spurts, my heart in my throat, more afraid of losing my job than of what that guy did, knows the real reason I quit.

The next incident happened later the same year.

It was late spring, about a month before graduation. I had nothing to do for two hours while I waited for my sister to get out of school, so agreed to go and hang out with some friends at another friend’s house.

I knew the guy. We’d hung out many times before.

When we got to his house, no one else was there. I asked him where everyone else was and he told me they were on their way. He gave me some soda and grabbed some Mac and Cheese, offering some to me. I declined.

We were sitting on the floor with our backs up against the couch when he leaned in to kiss me. I won’t lie – I was surprised, and briefly, kissed him back.

He took this as an invitation and pinned me down on the floor and started to kiss and grope me, begging me to just let him ‘stick it in, just a little’.

That’s when I realized he’d unzipped his pants.

I remember kneeing him in his groin area and pushing him off of me.

I remember him calling me a ‘bitch.’

I remember frantically trying to find my school bag, which he put somewhere to the side.

I remember running to the door, apologizing to HIM and saying something about having to pick up my sister.

And I remember him, his anger subsiding his I ran out the door actually pleading, “but it’s only like 2, come on, I’m sorry. I thought you were cool with it. We don’t have to have sex, maybe you can just give me a hand job…”

Again, the only person I immediately told, was my best friend. She was shocked because she didn’t think he was that type of guy. We over-analyzed the entire thing. In the end, I totally blamed myself. I was ashamed. I couldn’t for the life of me think of anything I’d done to lead him on. But, I figured I went there alone with him – So it was on me, right?

The next incident happened between my sophomore and junior years of college.

I was drunk.

He was drunk.

He was the boyfriend of an old HS friend, with whom I’d lost touch.

I was out with some friends at a Staten Island bar we frequented one night when I bumped into him.

We chatted a bit and drank a lot.

Then, we went outside to smoke a cigarette.

I won’t go into detail about what happened next, because the details aren’t really necessary for anyone reading this to get the gist of what happened. Suffice it to say it wasn’t pretty, or fun, or ‘rough horseplay.’

I blamed myself for years.

Even though, I said ‘no’ a million times.

Even though at some point I considered just letting him do what he wanted to do just to get him to leave me alone.

The only thing that prevented me from being truly violated was the fact that I threw up.

He got grossed out. And I didn’t get raped.

It could have been worse.

Most women, particularly those in my generation and the generations before me, were taught that if a man violated you, you were somehow to blame.

If a guy tries to kiss you, well, you should be flattered.

If he tries to have sex with you and you deny him, then you are a prude or a tease.

And, if he penetrates you, well, you’re a slut who was asking for it and are only saying something now because you regret having spread your legs.

That’s what we were told. That’s why we never spoke up. Any discussion with a trusted friend would be in hushed tones, questioning what we ourselves did wrong to have this happen to us.

Did I encourage any of these guys?

Why was I there?
What was I wearing?
Was I flirting?
Am I remembering this the right way?

It took me a long time to realize, I didn’t do anything wrong. The only thing anyone can accuse me of is trying to live my life while female.

I imagine what would have happened if I’d gone to the manager at the McDonald’s back in 1989 and told him what had happened. The culture back then wasn’t one where women could speak up. Anita Hill hadn’t yet had her hearing. No one that I knew had even heard the term “sexual harassment.”

I imagine what would have happened if I’d told anyone other than my best friend about that second guy (I don’t believe I told anyone). Who would believe me? What would they say about me? I was a bubbly, flirty, happy classmate who had more guy friends than girlfriends. They’d never believe that I wasn’t just a tease. They’d blame me and tell me I was wrong for giving the poor guy blue balls and then kicking him in the nuts.

I imagine what would have happened if I had told anyone about the third guy. He was an attractive young guy with a bright future and a hot girlfriend. I was a chubby college girl with frizzy hair and braces who wore ripped denim Bermuda shorts, and a crocheted vest over a loose tee-shirt. They’d tell me I should have been flattered that his beer goggles made me look good. And then told me if I felt attacked, then maybe I shouldn’t have gotten drunk.

What I’m saying is, I felt I couldn’t tell anyone. That’s what most women felt back then. It’s how most girls and women still feel today. More women are coming out with their stories now and the pushback from the old school “boys will be boys” crowd, both men and women, is, as expected, revolting.

With women speaking up more, we, as adults, need to teach boys and girls, starting at a very young age that ‘no means no.’ Girls, in particular, need to know that they have a place to go to tell people who will hear them out, and believe them, without asking them ‘what were you wearing,’ or, ‘what did you do to make him think you were interested in him.’

My motivation in telling this story is simple. Most people see me and they still see the bubbly, happy, although maybe a bit more jaded, person, I was back in HS. I’m not crippled by fear. I have a wonderful man in my life and we are happy. The fact is, most women who’ve had these kind of encounters in their lives are just like me. We went through it, compartmentalized it, and moved on.

But, by not speaking up or speaking out, we are doing a disservice to the girls and women growing up now, waking up to watch a woman who is speaking out about a sexual assault at the hands of a man who will be in a position to affect their lives for many years to come, being eviscerated by the same people who made us think that what happened to us was our fault.

It’s time to end this cycle of victim blaming and shaming. I don’t care if it happened 30 years ago, or 30 days ago. We need to leave the world a better, safer, place for the girls and young women we love who are watching this disgusting spectacle and wondering if they too will have to live their lives hiding in shame and fear, or will they have allies as they grow into womanhood in a world still dominated by men.

We need to tell our stories. We need to listen to their stories.

It’s way past time.

The Kids are Alright…

“And these children that you spit on
As they try to change their worlds
Are immune to your consultations.
They’re quite aware of what they’re going through”

“Changes” – David Bowie

In response to yesterdays “walk out” by HS Students all over the country,  protesting gun violence in schools, and the refusal of legislators to do anything to prevent another school mass shooting, some folks decided that kids should have, instead, had a “walk up.”

The idea was, instead of walking out to protest the fact that adults have failed them, the same adults who elected a bully into the oval office, believe that kids should have walked up to kids who were bullied, or who were loners, or otherwise ignored, and befriend them.

It’s a nice notion, and should definitely be promoted by schools on a daily basis. The fact that bullying is wrong and harmful should be taught all the time, not just as an expedient distraction from a recurring national tragedy.

Of COURSE we should do everything we can to prevent bullying. That should be a no-brainer. But it is a discussion completely separate from the mass-shootings we, as a country, have experienced over the past few years, in schools, churches, malls and movie theaters.

Shootings that had very little, if anything, to do with people who were bullied in school.

Put it this way, none of the school shooters were victims of school bullying.

– The guy in Florida was expelled for threatening violence against his classmate, and he beat his ex-girlfriend. He was actually a bully.

– The guys in Columbine bullied all the classmates they later killed.

– The guy in Sandy Hook was diagnosed with emotional issues and instead of seeking medical assistance for him, his mother took him to a gun range and gave him virtually unfettered access to her stockpile of guns.

Clearly, bullying is a problem, and it needs to be addressed. But the fact is, most bullied children end up committing suicide. They don’t kill others.

Mental illness is also a problem, and it definitely needs to be addressed. But it is only part of the problem, when folks with mental illness, or violent backgrounds, are still able to purchase guns with little to no background checks. And the fact that the current President, in his effort to get rid of any progress made by his predecessor, got rid of the regulation that would have helped prevent those with mental illness from purchasing guns, doesn’t help.

And then there’s the Second Amendment – The NRA’s favorite tool by which to instill fear in gun enthusiasts. But have any of these ‘protectors’ of the Second Amendment ever read the whole thing?

“A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed”

Regulation IS a part of the language, and since most states don’t have a “well regulated militia,” (The National Guard is as close as most states have to anything that qualifies) all you gun owners are subject to the laws of the individual states. It’s not your God-given, or Constitutionally-given, right to own a gun without anyone regulating said ownership. Sorry. Read it. Read it over and over and over again until you let it sink into your brain.

Just like my First Amendment rights don’t allow me to shout “fire” in a crowded theater, your Second Amendment rights aren’t absolute.

And that should be common sense, no?

We live in a society made up of people and laws made to protect us from those among us who may not have the best of intentions, or who may not have the mental capacity or responsibility needed to carry something that, in the wrong hands, can be dangerous to innocent people around them.

What most people, including most responsible gun owners, want, is for some form of unity in the law that would make it equally as difficult for, say, a mentally unstable 18 year old to get a gun in Virginia as it would in New York.

And, for the record, I really don’t give a shit about the semantics or the differences between guns and rifles and semi-automatic, or high caliber blah blah bullshit. A gun is a fucking gun and every single one of those things was created to kill a living being. So before you give me some bullshit about cars, or whatever distracting, irrelevant, nonsense argument you’re about to try and throw at me, shut it.

Seriously. I’m done debating this shit. It’s all a bunch of semantics and deflection. And doing nothing about the issue hasn’t helped anyone except the NRA and gun manufacturers.

I’m sure that if someone really wants to get a gun, they can. Just like someone who REALLY wants to buy drugs, will always find a way. Just like someone who REALLY wants to rob your house, or your place of business, will find a way.

So we should make it easier on them by not even TRYING anything to stop them?

Why bother having any kind of laws at all if everyone who wants to do a bad thing will find a way to do it?

And please, give me a break with the nonsense about needing the Second Amendment so we can rise against tyranny. Are you kidding me? Does that mean, by your definition, you should also be able to buy a tank, or a nuke? Because you’re not going to do much damage with your AR-15 against the full force of the US Military.  Besides, that is exactly what the National Guard is for.

The kids who marched yesterday said it. Adults have failed them.

And those ‘adults’ who are coming up with every excuse to disregard or discredit these kids, guess what?

Roughly a quarter of HS kids will be eligible to vote in the mid-term elections this year.

Roughly three-quarters of todays HS kids will be eligible to vote in the 2020 election.

So please, do continue to disregard their concerns.  Maybe they’ll finally make the changes we need to truly make this country great again – Starting with ridding us of the plague of NRA-purchased legislators in DC, and then ridding us of the pestilence currently spreading his vile, putrid, stench throughout the White House.

For the first time in 15 months, I see a light at the end of the tunnel.

Ms. Houston said it best… The children are the future. And the best thing we, as adults can do, is either get on board and help them make a better world for them, or get the hell out of the way.

Dear Senator Gillibrand,

I am usually proud and very happy with the choices you make and causes you back on behalf of all of us New Yorkers. I’ve often considered you to be one of our brightest and most thoughtful elected officials, and have trusted that you have always taken into consideration what is best for us, not just the party, when making your decisions.

However, I am writing today to express my severe disappointment in your decision to request Senator Franken’s resignation. I understand we are at a fever pitch with the #MeToo movement, and the response on our side to victims finally having their voice heard has been overwhelmingly supportive. I am very happy about that. But, there needs to be a point where we differentiate between unapologetic, perpetual sexual predators, like Rep Conyers, verses a guy who acted like immature kid who saw breasts for the first time.

Senator Franken’s actions WERE creepy, and WERE inappropriate, but he’s like every man over the age of 50 who woke up one morning, in a new day and age, and suddenly realized “crap, I’ve been harming people for my own giggles for too long. I need to stop that.” And he did. Treating him the same way as we would a Roy Moore is unquestionably stupid and makes us, as well as the movement we’d like to see progress, look stupid and reactionary.

This need to raise pitchforks and hang every man who has ever made an inappropriate pass at a woman, while understandable, will end up backfiring on us, and the #MeToo movement.

Al Franken has been a passionate supporter of women’s issues. He has also been a royal pain in the neck to the GOP, who are now ecstatic because the guy they saw as the biggest threat to their leader, is gone.

Why not let this go to an inquiry? Let these women face him, or have him face his accusers and listen to how his actions hurt them? And then, if warranted, have him resign?

It’s this kind of reactionary, short-sighted, sanctimonious desire to gain some ‘moral high ground’ against a group of people with no morals, that makes the Democratic party a laughing stock, and why, as of yesterday afternoon, I am no longer registered to vote as one.

You could have used this situation with Franken as a teachable moment. It’s not like he was a threat to his coworkers, and I will guarantee you, you won’t hear about him trying to touch anyone’s derriere without permission ever again.

He’s clearly not a predator. The fact that you and Sen Harris, et al, can’t see the difference is why the Democrats will continue to lose.

Instead of focusing on Franken, what you should have been doing this week is poking the hell out of the Roy Moore situation. Heaven knows they have been spoon feeding you all the ammunition you need. Instead, you took out the only member of your party who had the balls to stand up to the bullies on the other side of the aisle. Nice going.

Sorry this is so long winded. Please know, I’m not the only one who feels this way. You have diminished my faith in your ability to lead with any kind of real focus. And your party has let me and many like myself down with this action.

Yours truly,

Miriam Greenberg

Terror

Terrorism: The unlawful use of violence and intimidation, especially against civilians, in the pursuit of political aims.

It really shouldn’t amaze me how quickly the current administration politicized yesterday’s terror incident in Lower Manhattan.

Instead of focusing on those who lost their lives, OF COURSE our fear monger in charge went straight for the battle cry of hatred that unifies his supporters.

Sure, it makes total sense that in the aftermath of a tragedy, the first thing that should pointed out is the culprit’s religious belief, unless of course the culprit is a white dude.

Cue in the idiotocracy that supports Donny the Dunce maniacally  shouting “send them home,” in all their self-righteous ignorance, while quickly forgetting that an old white guy, a Christian no less, committed the worst act of violence on US soil since the 9/11 attacks just a couple of weeks ago.  They want to ban all Muslims, or carry out something their cheeto-tinted messiah calls “extreme vetting” (which is not a thing, by the way, the vetting process is pretty extreme already, but I digress), when, in fact, the majority of terrorist attacks on US soil have been perpetrated by, you guessed it, Caucasian males with US Citizenship, who claim to be Christian.

 

In the crazy debates that followed yesterday’s events, one person dared anyone to come up with a list of terrorist attacks perpetrated by white people, you know, aside from Oaklahoma City (which by definition, WAS a terrorist attack) and Vegas (which is unclear, because we don’t know this monster’s motive, which actually IS important when trying to differentiate between a terrifying act, and a terrorist attack).

I was seriously tempted to write an entire list starting with all the lynchings, church bombings, and beatings, of African Americans in the south in the post Civil-War era, but, I know the folks with whom I am debating. These people already forgot that a white guy plowed into a bunch of protesters a couple of months ago because they disagreed with that whole “Nazi” thing he was trying to promote. I highly doubt they’d pay attention to something they clearly see as “ancient” history.

So I typed in “White Extremist Terrorist attacks on US soil” and BOOM, someone had already done the research for me.

So here you go, all the terrorist attacks perpetrated by white people since the Oklahoma City bombing:

http://www.slate.com/blogs/the_slatest/2015/06/18/white_extremist_murders_killed_at_least_60_in_u_s_since_1995.html?cq_ck=1486485587473

You can use this the next time some poor, orange kool-aid drinking drone tries to spew some bullshit about the biggest threat to our country, which isn’t any religion at all. In fact, the biggest threat to our country currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue…

 

“It’s your fault. Why did you wear that dress?”

Those were the words the Rebbetsin spoke to me as I sat in her office after a boy had ripped open my snap-button denim dress because I wasn’t done sharpening my pencil quick enough for him.

I was nine years old.

After the incident, which happened in front of the whole classroom, I was sent to the office of the Rabbi’s wife . As a girl, being sent to the “Rebbetsin” was the equivalent of being sent to the Principle’s office.  The boy who ripped open my dress wasn’t sent anywhere. In fact, he wasn’t reprimanded at all.

It was my fault. I wore the dress.

I learned a valuable lesson that day. Not only was it always going to be my fault, but that turning to those in charge would do nothing. No one was going to help me.

  • A boy ripped your dress? Well, maybe you should have worn a different dress.
  • Your manager at McDonalds pushed you up against a wall and stuck his tongue in your mouth? Please, we all saw how chummy you two were, you clearly wanted it.
  • A co-worker keeps telling you that you have ‘child bearing hips’ and he would love to put a baby in you? You should be flattered because he’s hot.

In the wake of the Harvey Weinstein revelation, women have been sharing their #MeToo stories. They have been heartbreaking to read, yet not shocking. Most of us have dealt with some form of harassment. And while there are many people out there chiding men for their bad behavior, the folks who were most cruel to me after I tried to speak up, were women.

It was the Rabbi’s wife who told me that I shouldn’t have worn the dress.

And it was a female co-worker at my old job at McDonalds, back in my senior year of High School, who told me that our manager had every right to shove me up against the wall, near the garbage dump, and stick his tongue down my throat because I was always smiling at him and laughing at his jokes – Of course he thought I wanted it.

It was an older, female, co-worker who told me I should be flattered by the married guy who kept telling me he wanted to put a baby in me and my “child bearing hips.”

Just the other day, while discussing the Weinstein situation, a female coworker told me that while what he did was horrifying, she blames the victims for everything that happened not only to them, but to the women this guy raped and harassed after them because they should have spoken up sooner.

Another woman blamed the victims saying that if they dressed like ‘skanks’ they deserve what they got.

Why are women (mostly older ones) so cruel to other women who were harassed, and who now are speaking out about it?

Donna Karan came to Weinstein’s defense, talking about what a difficult position HE was in and that, we should, instead, look at how these women present themselves.

Mayim Bialik (yes, “Blossom” or, “Amy Farrah Fowler,” if you prefer), in an OpEd she wrote for the New York Times, said that women who ‘dress modestly’ are less likely to encounter sexual harassment. Essentially, proving, that even women who think they are feminists, still don’t get the point.

How are women supposed to report instances, if the first question we often hear is “are you sure?” Followed quickly with “what were you wearing?”

And how are women supposed to feel safe to report instances of harassment, when more often than not, the people asking these questions, and casting doubts, are other women?

And should women start donning birkas? Maybe we should all dress Frum? Would that help? And why is the onus on us? And why do we ourselves put the onus on us?

And if men are so weak that they can’t control themselves at the sight of a woman’s natural hair, or her elbows, or her knees, then how the hell are we, who are clearly so powerful that a glimpse of our smiles can make a man lose all sense of right and wrong, not the ones in control of the narrative?

Oh that’s right, because we really are our own worst enemies.

Women are vicious to one another. We are catty. We are the worst at victim shaming, slut shaming and judging.  We have allowed our cultural norms, which were set by men a long time ago, to force us to be in constant competition with one another. We watch shows like “The Bachelor” and “The Real Housewives” for the soul purpose to watch women be evil to one another.

If this #metoo movement has shown me anything, it’s that this has happened to EVERY woman I know. Every. Single. One.

Imagine if we all decided ‘enough is enough’ and actually stood by one another? No more slut-shaming, no more cattiness, no more excuse making, no more jealousy because of another’s looks, luck, man… Stop feeding into this notion that women need to be bitches to one another – it’s how men like Weinstein, Trump, Ailes, O’Reilly, etc, managed to get away with their shit for as long as they have.

Change the narrative.

Stop making it about “what did you wear?” And ask the real question, “What did he do?”

Stop teaching girls that we need to hide, or that our lot in life is to be submissive, or that we in any way, shape, or form, are to blame when men are the ones who can’t seem to control their ‘urges.’

Teach boys from an early age that women aren’t ‘less than’ and that ‘no means no’ and that if they see another boy/man disrespecting a woman, that he should stand up for the girl.

There are men who want to be our allies in all of this. I commend them. I’ve read their responses to the #MeToo movement, calling for men to do better.  I am heartened by their words and genuine horror at what they are witnessing in the revelations coming from the women in their lives.

But before we can accept their help, we really need to start to help ourselves.

And to that I must say #MeToo.